Put North Dakota on Your Bucket List This Year
Many of us will spend the New Year reflecting on the past and singing “Auld Lang Syne” (which translates to “times gone by”). But the new year is also a time to look forward and many North Dakotans are busy making plans for 2017. Whether it’s learning to ice skate, attending a hockey game for the first time or visiting a historical treasure, there are abundant things to do and see in this northern state. Add North Dakota to your bucket list this year: You are sure to have the experience of a lifetime.
Tackle an Icy Interest
Want to try a new activity? You have options in North Dakota, where unique winter sports tend to involve a lot of ice. Curling is in full swing so if this traditionally northern sport mystifies you, stop in at one of several clubs around the state to learn more about it. Or watch the best curlers in the nation compete at the USA Curling Junior National Championships in Fargo. Strap on some blades and take an ice skating lesson at a local rink or simply join the swarms of boisterous hockey fans found all across North Dakota as they cheer on their favorite team. Whoever said fishing requires open water hasn’t been here, where ice fishing is a beloved winter pastime. Find out what the fuss is all about and drop a line in a North Dakota lake.
Look Through a Wintry Lens
North Dakota’s prairie winter landscape is unparalleled in its pristine splendor. Observe wintry wildlife while snowshoeing or cross-country skiing at one of North Dakota’s serene state parks. Join local cyclists for a fat bike ride on snow-covered single-track trails around rugged buttes or across rolling prairie. Give snowboarding a try at one of North Dakota’s modest ski and snowboard areas where you can safely and confidently hone your skills. Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a year-round favorite and rife with active wildlife even during the state’s coldest months. Drive the North Unit or South Unit scenic drives (check for road conditions) to see for yourself how bison and prairie dogs withstand the cold. On a clear and crisp night, look up at North Dakota’s vast winter sky and uncountable twinkling stars.
Try Different Digs
North Dakotans have a knack for identifying unique ways to both have fun and stay comfortable in the winter months. The full-service Woodland Resort near Devils Lake offers anglers the opportunity to dangle a line into a frozen lake and then tuck in for a cozy night at the lodge. Lodges and resorts around the state guarantee secluded, peaceful and romantic weekends away. Pack books, board games and snacks to spend a weekend in a yurt – a tent-like structure with stoves for heat – at Cross Ranch State Park or Fort Ransom State Park. Several yurts were recently renovated and even include indoor plumbing! For an urban experience, book a night at the Hotel Donaldson in Fargo or the Radisson in Bismarck and spend the evening exploring coveted eating establishments and watering holes in North Dakota’s larger cities.
Uniquely North Dakotan
There are only a few places in the country where you can play a game of snow kickball or race a cardboard sled, and this northern clime is one of them. Fargo’s North of Normal Frostival is a multi-day celebration of all things cool about living in one of the coolest places. Tree pose with locals during snowga – yes, that’s snow yoga – and then enjoy family-centered activities at The Depot. North Dakota’s unique and fascinating natural and cultural history is chronicled at the North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum. Roam the extensive galleries for hours and improve your knowledge about dinosaurs, the earth’s geological eras and anthropology in the region. Lewis and Clark spent a winter along the Missouri River near modern-day Washburn, so head to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center there to learn what life was like for the explorers. Guided tours of Fort Mandan highlight recreated living conditions of the expedition, replete with map-making tools, clothing and the bunks the men slept in.